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Effingham Eye: Residents Hold AGM, Trust Needs More Funding, Shops To Reopen

Published on: 1 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 3 Mar, 2021

Chris Dick writes about: an unusual annual meeting, more funds needed for volunteer group, an orchard project and local shops plan reopening.

Residents Association annual meeting

For the first time since its formation in the early 1960s, the Effingham Residents’ Association’s (EFFRA) annual meeting, held on Monday, February 22, was not open to the public or journalists.

Cameras, screenshots and audio recordings were similarly banned.

In an exchange of emails before the meeting, the association secretary said that the reasons for the ban were in themselves confidential.

However, straight after the meeting, on the very matter I had been banned from reporting, EFFRA issued its own unattributed article, including: “Heléna Lawrence a young mum has set up a campaign against the Berkeley Homes proposal to build an extra 110 houses on the green belt at site (sic) Effingham Lodge Farm …”

This is an unusual association, as for example, according to its constitution, all adult Effingham residents are de facto members of the association free of charge. It’s a bit like being a member of the human race … you just are, whether you know it or not.

These days, official residents’ associations are expected to have a membership secretary and keep a register of its members. EFFRA does not.

The association was offered the opportunity to comment on these matters but had not done so by the time this article was posted. Any comment it may wish to add will be posted.

Vivien White, the chairman of the Effingham Residents’ Association.

Fortunately, the association had left open a journalistic window of opportunity.

This opportunity came in the guise of a 1,500-word chairman’s report by Vivien White. It had been posted on its publicly accessible website prior to the meeting and had helpfully provided something that could be reported on.

The report quite rightly drew attention to EFFRA’s efforts to object to those planning applications it had considered to be inappropriate. Credit where credit is due, this is something the group does well.

But although the rest of the report made interesting reading, much of it covered events about which the association itself had had little, if nothing, to do with.

The first of four pages were devoted to the fire in the shopping parade last year when the butcher’s shop and village supermarket had been gutted.

Graphic photographs captured the event, but the report was a bit misleading regarding who had been responsible for setting up the temporary community store.

The community store was not, as stated in the chairman’s report, “… set up by the church”. The following provides a little more on the subject.

Upon receiving a suggestion from a local resident, Effingham Parish Council backed a small independent management group made up of one councillor Jerome Muscat, the Revd Mandy MacVean, Pat Bleasby who had been a former manager of the village hall and playing fields, and one other.

This group secured the loan of premises in the same parade of shops where the fire had caused so much damage. Tributes should go to Ian Shier and Euna Kang, the owners of Layla’s cafe for lending their premises.

Via a hastily convened extraordinary meeting, the parish council and shortly after Guildford Borough Council each granted the group £5,000 to set up the store.

Both councils should be commended as they performed at top speed because some residents had been unable through age, infirmity or where they lived, to buy essential food and household items.

And again, credit where credit is due, the church carried out a wonderful job staffing the store with volunteers.

On the matter of the Gypsy incursions, EFFRA’s report missed out the months of chaos in the aftermath of those incursions that might be worth recalling.

The playing fields car park was locked to prevent further incursions which then obliged users of the grounds to park outside in Browns Lane.

This was not a popular move and resulted in the security chains and locks being cut or glued. The police were called on several occasions to deal with these problems as well as some antisocial vehicle obstructions.

The report did not mention the numerous concerns raised in telephone calls to parish councillors, the playing fields’ trustees and members of the residents’ committee.

It did not mention the adverse comments on the latter’s website – that were subsequently and arbitrarily taken down as they might have been seen as critical of the volunteer trustees doing their level best to keep the grounds open and safe from further incursions.

That said, it was good to see that EFFRA had supported the fundraising for better security both at the recreation ground’s car park and at the church hall gardens in Brown Lane.

Parish council meeting

Effingham Parish Council held its regular monthly Zoom meeting on Tuesday, February 23.

The meeting was well-chaired by Ian Symes who sped rapidly and effectively through the many items on the agenda.

Without any major highlights to report on, it was a very different meeting from the preceding month.

Perhaps the shenanigans at Handforth and Normandy Parish Councils had damped the spirit of our councillors. Anyway, let’s hope for a return to the healthy cut and thrust from our councillors next month.

More funds for recreation

It is only when compared to other parishes that we note an imbalance in where funds are spent.

Tree being felled on Ripley common.

On a recent visit to Ripley’s green it was evident that the parish council there was once again carrying out some remedial tree work along the lane that runs through the common.

Fallen trees in woods behind St Lawrence Church on the King George V recreation grounds.

While in contrast, Effingham’s small wooded area in the recreation grounds is continuing to suffer from a lack of attention and funding.

The state of this area should not be ignored as it is becoming a health and safety issue. Paths are blocked with fallen trees and branches and there is a general air of being run down.

Previous reporting in The Guildford Dragon NEWS has raised the issue of antisocial activity in this area.

In Ripley, the parish has the ability to raise funds through its precept (local taxes). However, in Effingham recreation grounds are managed by a trust that cannot directly raise funds through taxes.

That said, the trustees receive significant funds from the parish but clearly insufficient to meet all its needs.

The answer would seem to be that either Effingham runs some major fundraising events, like the old popular annual fireworks display, or the parish reassesses its financial commitment to this hard-working charity.

In passing, it seems extraordinary that, to name but a few – Ripley, Cobham and Farnham – all provide free poo bags in their parks, yet Effingham does not. It seems that these councils prioritise their funds differently.

Good news snippets

It’s great to see that, following the devastating fire last year, Bevan’s the butchers in Effingham, is undergoing a major refit and that nearby Layla’s Cafe is also readying itself to reopen for takeaways.

Scrubland clearance

Waste ground off The Street opposite the Methodist Chapel.

Volunteers, organised by St Lawrence Church, have been granted approval by Surrey County Council to undertake scrubland clearance on the small patch of land opposite the Methodist Chapel in The Street.

The group aims to create a community orchard with the help of funds raised by the church and a donation from Effingham Parish Council.

The only concern raised by the council at its February meeting was whether there would be a reliable maintenance programme.

Information on the orchard project.

Anyone wishing to volunteer can email the group at stlawrence1939@btinternet.com

Or make a donation by clicking here.

In closing …

How different our area looks in less than a month.

A blocked drain on Ockham Road North provided a beautiful winter wonderland.

And two weeks later everyone was enjoying the warm weather … including the ducks on Lower Road Effingham.

Ducks prepare to cross Lower Road.

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test One Response to Effingham Eye: Residents Hold AGM, Trust Needs More Funding, Shops To Reopen

  1. John Lomas Reply

    March 2, 2021 at 10:21 am

    With regard to the photograph captioned: “Waste ground off The Street opposite the Methodist Chapel.”

    I would suggest that there is nothing needing to be cleared from that view.

    The trees, the lower storey of bushes and shrubs and the grass all appear to be in order and ready and waiting for their utilisation by a myriad of wildlife species in the coming months

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